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Library construction causes ‘an extreme inconvenience of foot traffic’ for students

The library construction, which is scheduled to be completed around the start of the fall 2024 semester, is project 18 out of 87 projects in the Capital Renewal Program. ORACLE PHOTO/ CLARA ROKITA GARCIA

Genevieve Carcano, junior humanities and English major, said she was “irritated” when she noticed construction in front of the library on the first day of spring classes.

“I was walking to class and the construction added a couple of minutes to my walk that I did not anticipate,” Carcano said. “I didn’t want to be late on my first day of class.” 

The work is scheduled to be completed around the start of the fall 2024 semester, according to USF’s Director of Communication and Engagement Aaron Nichols. Over the next couple of years, USF’s Capital Renewal Program will result in an increased number of construction projects across all USF campuses, he said.

The construction site in front of the library is deferred maintenance project 18, according to Nichols.

Related: Deferred maintenance projects to be completed through 2026

Nichols said the project will replace four air handler units in the basement of the library along with their associated control and distribution networks. The air handler units are at the end of their functional life, and if they failed, there would be a loss of cooling and heating in the library, Nichols said.

For students unaware of current and future construction plans, Nichols said there is a publicly accessible interactive project map for Capital Renewal Program projects. This tool allows the USF community and other interested parties to view the details and impacts of all 87 projects, he said.

The construction occupies an “unnecessary” large area in front of the library, according to Gowtham Lekkala, graduate business analytics and information systems student. 

“I first noticed the construction because I saw the fence around it,” Lekkala said. “I don’t think it was necessary for them to fence that much area.”

Georgienne Shuey, senior humanities and cultural studies major, said the construction is “an eyesore” and the noise can cause inconvenience for those studying outside.

Nichols said despite their efforts to minimize disruptions, some inconveniences are unavoidable.

“We appreciate the patience of the USF community during this period as the work is necessary, crucial and will benefit our campus facilities and infrastructure for decades,” Nichols said.

Lekkala said the library construction should at least happen during free hours, on the weekends or late at night so that it doesn’t cause inconveniences to students. 

“Students were on a break last month, so why couldn’t they have done the construction at that time? Why are they doing it now?” Lekkala said.

Freshman biology major Gabrielle Paul said she had “no clue why they” thought the beginning of the semester was a great time to start construction.

“The library construction should have happened over the break because there is a lot of noise on the outside of the library and the extreme inconvenience of foot traffic,” Paul said.

Nichols said “highly disruptive projects” are usually scheduled during academic breaks. However, due to the availability and timing of resources and construction durations, some projects may have noticeable effects on daily campus activities, according to Nichols.

A few other construction projects also bother Lekkala, such as the one between Muma College of Business and Cooper Hall (CPR) and the one between Pollo Tropical and the Education Building (EDU).

Nichols said the project behind CPR is an emergency repair related to a broken water pipe and is scheduled to be completed this week.

The construction between Pollo Tropical and EDU is deferred maintenance project 75 and is scheduled to be completed by the end of January, according to Nichols.

Nichols said the project involves the replacement of critical valves that are part of the campus hot and chilled water system. If they failed, it could lead to campus-wide cooling, heating and hot water outages in buildings, he said.

Shuey said most people don’t know what the constructions are about. She said she thinks the ones responsible for them should have publicized them more to promote transparency with students.

“You got to do what you got to do, but the constructions should have been more publicly acknowledged since the start,” Shuey said.